On June 21, the University of British Columbia’s Vice President of External Relations announced that novelist Steven Galloway is no longer employed as a professor in the Creative Writing Department. After an independent investigation lead by retired judge Mary Ellen Boyd, UBC President Martha Piper concluded that there was “a record of misconduct that resulted in an irreparable breach of the trust placed in faculty members by the university, its students and the general public.” Based on Piper’s recommendation, the board of governors decided to terminate Mr. Galloway’s employment with the university.
Galloway, who has been employed by UBC since the 90s, was suspended with pay in November of 2015 for what UBC’s Dean of Arts called “serious allegations.” As Galloway’s record of inappropriate behaviour came to light in the fall of last year, UBC students were encouraged to seek counselling.
Those sentiments were echoed in a memo issued today by UBC’s Creative Writing Department: “For students, there are multiple places to reach out for confidential support on Campus.”
Galloway, author of several well-known Canadian novels including international best-seller, The Cellist of Serajevo, did not counter any of the findings in Boyd’s report. He has yet to make a statement to the public about the cause of his termination. Random House Publishing, on the other hand, was quick to offer their full endorsement regardless of the nature of the allegations, back in November, tweeting:
We're proud to publish Steven Galloway, acclaimed author of The Cellist of Sarajevo & others. We look forward to publishing his future books
— Random House Canada (@RandomHouseCA) November 19, 2015
The University has kept the details behind Galloway’s firing shrouded in mystery, but the Globe and Mail reports having spoken with several of the complainants, and that “allegations include sexual harassment as well as creating a toxic environment at the program.” Marsha Lederman writes:
“Those complainants — including former students — allege Mr. Galloway fostered a sexualized atmosphere, drank regularly with students and played favourites — bringing some students into his inner circle while casting others out.”
According to the Globe, the suspension with pay came after a single allegation of misconduct, which was then followed by “quite a number” more once news of the suspension was made public.
Given that “the dean also took into consideration other allegations which were not the subject of the investigation,” it is unknown whether Galloway would have been dismissed had the suspension been kept private, as the UBC Faculty Association had recommended. Given how seriously UBC’s administration has failed victims of other “serious allegations,” the UBC community is lucky that the investigation didn’t result in a whole lot of nothing.
One of the women who complained to UBC about Galloway told The Canadian Press, “I’m so relieved that UBC did the right thing.” She asked to remain anonymous, lest her comments negatively impact her career, and didn’t explain the nature of her complaints, but said, “This has been the worst year of my life.”